Young children have no concept of social norms or societal pressures, so they don’t care what people think. I see this in my 3-year-old nephews. They don’t worry about what the people at the restaurant think when they are laughing or playing. They don’t care if their clothes match or think about how someone might respond to what they say. This sentiment is true of all young children, but as they grow, they become more aware.
In many ways, this awareness is a good thing. Being aware of others and cognizant of their thoughts can make us more empathetic and helps us to better respond to the people around us. But this awareness can also lead to doubt—a sense that we’re not good enough. In fact, when we are truly aware of what others around us think or believe about us, it can even lead to shame. “Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior” (English Oxford Living Dictionaries).
And over what?
Wrong or foolish behavior.
Here’s my question: Who determines this wrong or foolish behavior?
I’m afraid that we often feel shame because someone or something has decided that who we are, or what we believe, is wrong or foolish. It’s discouraging and disheartening for me to watch people sacrifice who they are because of a feeling of shame. Being ashamed causes good people to be unwilling to stand up for a cause they believe in, to espouse their deeply-held values, to speak out against an injustice they see. Sometimes, a sense of shame can even prevent us from simply sharing our idea around the conference table at the workplace. This silence isn’t for fear of physical or financial injury. It’s not that people are worried about getting fired or put in jail for speaking up, but they are worried someone somewhere might think less of them. So much of our behavior is driven by this concept of shame.
Here’s the question we all need to answer: What am I not doing or saying because I’m worried about what someone else is thinking?
Professor, author, and speaker Brené Brown brings to light the original definition of courage in her book The Gifts of Imperfection—”to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Maybe the most heroic thing you could do today is simply speak up.
This is a challenge to me and to each of you to live unashamed—unashamed of your faith, your beliefs, your ideas, and your identity. The world needs us to stand up and speak up. Once one person pushes back against shame, it’s not only freeing for that individual but also for anyone else who witnesses it. The Rev. Billy Graham said, “Courage is contagious. When one man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.”
Once one person pushes back against shame, it’s not only freeing for that individual but also for anyone else who witnesses it. @KevinPaulScott
Decide today to live unashamed.
When you have the opportunity to share your faith, do it boldly and graciously. Your words could transform another person’s life.
When you have an idea about your company’s new project, speak up. Your insights could be the difference that moves this project from good to great.
When you witness an injustice in your neighborhood, step out and speak up. You could start a movement that drastically improves the well-being of your community.
When you have a passion for a creative project, get started. You’ll grow in your craft and inspire the people around you.
Speak up, step out, live unashamed. Do it for yourself and for the world around you.
We are waiting.
Did someone forward this blog to you? Did you stumble across it somewhere on the internet? Subscribe and receive these to your inbox every Tuesday morning.
It’s easy. Just sign up below.